I’m sure we’ve all heard people say “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, I think just the opposite is true: When you see it, as in totally visualize the successful outcome with every fiber of your being, then, and only then, will you achieve it.
The key is in eliminating any half-assed, wishy-washy, self-doubt bullshit. (Yes, I said “bullshit!”) Or if you prefer it in Yoda’s words, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Uh-huh. I’m currently working my freakin’ tail off to practice what I preach, but the bottom line is that despite a boatload of positive talk, a few of my happy thoughts keep losing their way and falling into the quicksand.
So “the proof is in the pudding,” as some wise person somewhere is purported to have once said, which I think aptly fits this situation, if I only knew what the hell that little platitudewas supposed to mean…
(You can take a 20 to 30 minute break here, the time it took to look up the origin of that saying, then distracting myself further engrossed in The Word Detective’s website.)
Here’s the short version: “The proof is in the pudding” is actually a mangled form of the original phrase, which was “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” (which dates back to the early 1600s.) Even if you use a great recipe with fresh ingredients and the pudding looks delicious, you can only judge it by putting it in your mouth. The actual taste is the only true criterion of success.
Now where were we? Oh yeah…The only way I’m going to know if my book, which I started writing in 2002 and sent off to the printer late last week, is any good at all, is to brace myself for reader’s feedback. At this point I am simply too close to the damn thing.
Whoa! But does that mean I need external validation in order to feel internally good about completing this massive undertaking?
Hhmm… Lemme think on that while I go mess around in the kitchen. I’ve suddenly got a hankering for some (sugar-free) pudding.
In the 9th grade, I humiliated myself in front of nearly 100 of my junior high classmates when I tripped on the oddly-spaced steps in the choir room and tumbled down the stairs, tearing holes in both knees of my fishnet stockings. As if that single incident weren’t enough, Miss Bantillo, the choir director, referred to me as “Grace” the rest of the year, further embedding the event in everyone’s memory.
It’s not that I’m totally clumsy, it’s just that I had some very good reasons to refrain from putting “professional dancer” on my list of potential career paths. And until last month, I would have foolishly turned down a short stint on Dancing with the Stars, missing out on the opportunity to swoon in Maks’s arms.
But last month I turned 60, and all bets are off.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
So I’ve got the tattoo, and I’ve got the Mustang, and I’ve definitely got the attitude to dance in public as a taco and not give a whit about what anyone thinks.
And I in my bones I know there’s a lot more of my newfound personal freedom waiting to be expressed now that “I’m an old lady”—but I’m definitely off to a good start!
I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in over 16 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still occasionally love going into quirky little bars now and then for a good burger, some extra-greasy fries, and a glimpse into a world that becomes more strange and foreign to me each time I venture in.
During my recent visit to the Wood River Valley in Central Idaho, I followed through on my promise to look in on a friend of a friend mine from Ocean Park. His friend allegedly owns a bar in Ketchum, and “if you happen to stop in there, tell him I said hello.”
I say this mysterious friend of my friend “allegedly” owns the bar, because I never managed to meet him. Oh, I went there, alright, and I had a great cheeseburger and fries, but “the boss” was away that day, so I had to content myself with hanging out with about a bazillion good-looking guys all drinking beer and watching the World Cup on the numerous flat-screened TVs.
Yeah, I know, tough job, but they definitely needed a little less testosterone in that place, and I think the only other female—the waitperson—was happiest to see me. No gal on earth could hope to compete with the enticing combination of beer and the World Cup for attention.
It would be a shame if quirky little bars like this one go the way of thousands of small local coffee shops and Mom and Pop diners, but more and more “the big chains,” with their consistent “you know exactly what’ll you’ll get here” menus are taking over.
Which precisely why I go out of my way patronize independent bookstores, homegrown Saturday and Sunday markets, and kids selling lemonade on the street corner.
Viva la true Americana!
One of the highlights of my annual pilgrimage to Hailey is the eager anticipation of the arrival of the sheep. Yes, sheep. Scientific name: Ovis aries. Those woolly, smelly, bleating, even-toed ungulates known for nibbling the grass right down to the roots.
All of which begs the question: Why in the world would I be excited by a bunch of migrating sheep?
And that’s a very good question.
Might it be a throwback to my childhood infatuation with the puppet “Lamb Chop?” (Highly unlikely.) Is it my penchant for actual lamb chops and mint jelly? (Ick. Not a prayer.) Could it be that I’m enamored with the romanticized idea of the lonely shepherd, playing his harmonica to soothe the skittish animals at the end of a long day?
We might be on to something here…
Throughout the month of June, herds of sheep are moved from the lowlands to the higher elevations in the Wood River Valley. And the easiest way to get them there is to march them right up through the town of Hailey at the crack of dawn. (In October, when they’re moved back down from the mountains, there’s the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, but in June, apparently little note is taken by anyone but me…)
Baa! Baaaa! Bah! Baaahh! Bah! Baaaaaa! Baw! No matter how you spell it, you can’t mistake the sound of a couple hundred sheep walking right on up Myrtle Street to the bike path. And later, you can’t mistake the trail of sheep droppings liberally dotting all the paved surfaces they’ve traversed.
I slept with my window open, listening in my slumber for the whistles of the herders and the sharp bark of their dogs. And on the second to last day of my time there, I was rewarded. Baaaaaa! Baa! Baw! Bah! The sound crept into my subconscious as I sat on the couch in the pre-dawn, checking my email. Baa! Baaaah! Baaaaaaaa!
So why have I posted these pictures of goats, and not my beloved sheep? Because the goats are being moved at a much slower pace—electrified enclosures were set up for them to pause long enough to munch down the noxious weeds the sheep won’t eat. Yes, that’s right—there are some noxious weeds that only goats will feed on.
But aren’t these goats the cutest little things? And so much quieter than the sheep! Just don’t get too close—they smell just as bad!
Mom and Aunt Jo were big on marking all kinds of events with rhyming-couplet poems. Holidays, birthdays, Little League games, a mouse found in the mop in the janitor’s closet at the church—it didn’t take much for one of them to be off and running with a funny commemorative verse.
When my first book was published—a collection of my humorous, personal experience newspaper columns—my mother insisted I write a disclaimer in the beginning to say I’d made it all up. She was afraid she’d look silly or stupid.
So I wrote a tongue-in-cheek dedication to that effect, claiming that none of it was even remotely about my real family, as I was found in a cave and raised by wolves.
My aunt immediately sent me a poem concluding with the verse, “I have to think, it may be true, that she’s an only child; raised without a family, by wolves, out in the wild.”
So fast-forward a couple decades, and I’m in McMinnville attending the UFO Festival. (No, I am not making this up—there really is a UFO Fest—you can google it!) And my friend Marty, who’s a musician and sound designer, looks around at all the people in costume and says something like “I wonder what it would be like to have an alien girlfriend.”
Well, that’s all it took. In less time than you can say “Beam me up, Scotty,” I’d written a funny little rhyming poem about just such a relationship.
I sent my poem to Marty, and it arrived when he was in just the right mood. He composed all aspects of the music, added “space-age sound effects” (For those of you older readers, think “The Jetsons”), and he even sang the lyrics himself. The result was amazing!
So now I’ve added songwriter to my list of “writing credits.” Some of Marty’s friends are talking about making a little animated video to accompany the song, and I hope they do! It would be beyond fabulous for something I wrote the words to be up on YouTube. If that happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Meanwhile, here’s a link to the song: https://soundcloud.com/martin-john-gallagher/alien-girlfriend